DmC Devil May Cry has been a very controversial game since the onset. Capcom decided to give the responsibility for this reboot to the developers at Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved), entrusting them with one of their core franchises. And what did they do with it? Completely changed the look and feel of the series’ main character, Dante, and incited the wrath of the Devil May Cry community. For self-proclaimed series purists, you can stop reading now, because DmC is actually a pretty good game.
DmC starts off with an introduction to the villain, Demon King Mundus. He has taken over the world using soft drinks and propaganda perpetuated by his Raptor News network while simultaneously keeping the world suppressed under mountains of debt. Meanwhile, our formerly white haired protagonist is out partying and getting wasted, before waking up to a mysterious girl (named Kat) who warns him of an oncoming attack.
As a display of how crazy the game is, Dante answers the door and carries on the conversation butt naked and eventually gets dressed while floating through his trailer just before it is destroyed; his manly bits are tastefully censored by a baseball bat and a half eaten slice of pizza. Ninja Theory went out of their way to establish Dante as crass and juvenile, and they succeeded. They even go as far as to blatantly poke fun at those who complained about his main design change before moving on. I have to say, I LOVED that.
Ninja Theory knows how to tell a story, and true to form, DmC does an excellent job weaving the original story for Dante (and his twin brother, Vergil). While the actual fiction is nothing to write home about, the presentation of the story is great and keeps you immersed in-between bouts of slicing up demons. The characters actually have an individual arc, too, so you can see the slight changes in the attitudes in them by the time the credits roll. That final mission in particular gave me everything I could have wanted and more from a character standpoint. I often felt the other Devil May Cry games were missing character progression, so I welcomed the addition.
An addition I did not welcome, however, is the music. The soundtrack is mostly composed of dubstep and hard rock (the kind with screamed lyrics) which I found grating; it was just much more intrusive and overpowering than that of previous games in the series and I found I was better off when I turned the volume down. Thankfully, the visuals do not suffer the same way. For series veterans, the stylized look may take a few levels to adjust to, but once you do, you’re golden. It just looks great, from the characters to the cutscenes to the world.
Speaking of the world, it feels like it really wants you dead. The setting is split between the normal human world and the demonic world known as Limbo, which is where you spend the majority of your time. Limbo is constantly moving and contorting itself to confuse and destroy you. At times, walls will cave in, the floor will shake or even rip apart, and pathways will draw further away to keep you on edge. There were a few times I’d try to make a jump and the ledge would pull away, forcing me to react and approach each jump with caution. It never once felt cheap, but rather refreshing that it would be so volatile.
Combat has always been the calling card of Devil May Cry, and once again, it is the shining star of DmC. You’re initially equipped with your old faithful sword Rebellion along with twin pistols Ebony and Ivory, but you acquire new weapons along the way. One of the biggest changes is you now get two additional types of weapons: angelic and demonic. The angelic weapons are quick and cover large areas, helping you attack many enemies at once, while the demonic weapons are slow and powerful; very deliberate. These weapons also provide you with a grappling hook that is used both in battle and during the platforming segments; angelic pulls you to the object, demonic pulls the object toward you. It makes for interesting combo possibilities, and helps fights remain fluid across larger areas as you drift from one group of enemies to the next.
DmC also makes the combat much more accessible, as it is much more forgiving than any other DMC. In the past, I’d often struggle to get SSS rank combos (and Mission Ranks, while we’re on the subject), but I’ve been able to reach the highest rank on multiple occasions and felt great doing it. Assuming all the enemies don’t die first, there were times where I was able to string a combo using every weapon in the game, flinging myself and enemies back and forth across the map with ease. It’s a very liberating feeling and can be felt by nearly anyone with a bit of practice.
And practice you can. It just so happens that DmC has a dedicated Training Mode. It’s very simple – it puts you in a white room with one enemy and a command list and lets you go to town. That enemy will never die, so you can hone your combos whenever you like.
While the combat is equal parts frantic and poetic in the best of times, it does have a few annoying quirks that bring it down a notch. While you can switch between weapons in the middle of any given combo, going to one weapon to another creates a slight delay – small, but perceivable – that can throw you off a bit. There is also a slight pause between the time to press the button and the time Dante decides to evade attacks which throws off your timing. Playing on harder difficulties, this could be a bit troublesome as you are facing stronger enemies. It just seems like some of the animations cannot be canceled out of once they’re started.
But if you die for whatever reason, fear not, for DmC has autosaves and mid-level checkpoints. So aside from costing you some pride and points on your final Mission Rank, dying actually isn’t as big of a hassle as previous games. I think many players will find this valuable when facing more grueling challenges or just don’t feel like finishing that long level right away.
As is par for the series, Dante’s attacks and abilities can be unlocked and upgraded at statues placed in levels or before starting the next mission. A few key differences here, though; Dante still collects red orbs to use in the shop, but upgrades are handled using white orbs that are awarded based upon your Mission Rank. The white orbs are pretty easy to come by, but even if you use them and have upgrader’s remorse, they’re not permanent. You can easily undo any previous upgrade and apply it elsewhere, encouraging you to try new things. A small feature, sure, but I found it helpful for experimentation.
Despite complaints about DmC using Epic’s Unreal Engine, I didn’t encounter much in the way of bugs or other technical issues during my time with the game. I had one moment where somehow the platform I was standing on was no longer visible, but I just ran off the edge and everything was fine (well, it did cost me a smidgen of health). Everything was fluid and smooth, although the camera is a bit sticky when you’re near walls and some ledges, so be wary of that.
Everything changes. The world changes, people change, character designs change – it’s something we just have to accept. In this case, change is good. The team at Ninja Theory managed to create a very good game that deserves to have you at least give it a shot, even if you have reservations about it. DmC delivers on multiple fronts, including the most important one – fun. They nailed it so well, they even nailed Capcom’s style and are offering the Bloody Palace as (free) DLC down the line. If anything, you gotta commend them for that.
Full disclosure: I purchased this game for review. I spent approximately 20 hours with it and beat the game on Devil Hunter (Normal).